Natural hair is amazing. Cropped, long, wavy, or coily it can shape-shift into anything your imagination dreams up. However, there are a few downsides: frizz, dryness, and tedious wash days. Lucky for us, there are treatments, masks, and styling products that can help remedy any hair woes, which brings me to the caramel deep conditioning treatment. The name of this beloved deep conditioning mask threw me off. All I could imagine was struggling to rinse caramel out of my 4c curls. However, it's much less complicated than it seems.
The caramel treatment is caramel in color due to key ingredients molasses and honey. Along with these sweet items, the treatment is made with other hydrating goodies that some credit with loosening their curls and even making their silk presses soft and straight without the need to overdo it on the heat. Here, we'll share the origins, ingredients, and a DIY recipe for this sticky-sweet conditioning treatment.
I am new to the caramel treatment; however, many naturals just starting their hair journey find the conditioning concoction extremely helpful for easing their transition from relaxed hair to their natural curls. The caramel treatment was developed by E’tae, an all-natural haircare line that uses 20 natural ingredients throughout their product line to make everything from shampoos to growth enhancements that work in tandem with their hero product: the Carmel Deep Conditioning treatment. The preservative-free treatment is made with items you may already have in your kitchen like bananas, molasses, and honey.
What Are the Benefits?
During my deep dives on hair blogs and YouTube, I found that many naturals used the caramel treatment as a pre-silk press conditioning treatment to help smooth the hair cuticle. Beyond creating a well-conditioned canvas for straightening natural hair, many reported looser curls after one use of the banana-infused product. Since there aren't chemicals in the conditioner, the loose curls can likely be attributed to hydration, as proper moisture can help combat shrinkage, especially on coily hair types. With a humectant like honey, an emollient like olive oil, a protein-rich fruit (the banana), and water in one product, optimal hydration is to be expected. The brand also says the treatment creates body and volume, helps to fight humidity, reduces frizz, enhances curl definition, and can make hair more manageable.
Can I Make This at Home?
Whipping up your own DIY caramel treatment is simple. You'll just need a few items you may already have in your kitchen. There's one ingredient in the recipe we're sharing from natural hair guru, Curly Nikki, you may consider skipping (but we advise you not to): cornstarch. Because this recipe is filled with sticky, liquid ingredients, cornstarch is what helps thicken the mixture to prevent it from dripping all over you while you're conditioning.
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of raw honey
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- 2 containers of banana baby food
- 1 Tbs cornstarch mixed with just enough water to dissolve it
- Splash of apple cider vinegar
To whip up this conditioning treatment, grab a small pot, a measuring cup, a spoon, and an applicator bottle. The applicator bottle will make it easier to evenly distribute your caramel mix to your curls.
Per Curly Nikki's recipe, mix all of your cold ingredients in a small pot. While your liquid ingredients are cold, add your cornstarch water mixture to the bowl and mix until all of the clumps are smoothed. Next, bring your stove to medium-low heat and continue mixing as you wait for your mix to come to a boil. Once your ingredients start to boil, turn off your heat, and allow your new treatment to cool.
How Do I Use It?
Once cool, pour your mixture into a bottle with an applicator and apply the mixture to your hair. Allow the mask to sit on your hair with plastic for up to an hour, then cleanse with a sulfate-free shampoo. It is recommended that this treatment be done every two weeks. However, depending on the porosity of your hair, you can set a schedule that works best for your curls to prevent using too much protein, which can have the opposite effect and leave your hair feeling dry and brittle.
Alternative Treatments With Similar Ingredients
If you're looking for a deep conditioner with banana protein but would rather not DIY, give this moisture mask a try.
Honey always offers up moisture for dry, dehydrated hair. Here you have a deep conditioning hair mask that can revitalize your parched curls with a budget-friendly price tag.
This natural, organic hair treatment with humectant benefits stimulates the scalp, thanks to the cleansing ingredient, sage.
The ingredients in this conditioner are like a morning smoothie for your hair. Rich with antioxidants and fatty acids, this conditioner will have your curls feeling like themselves again in no time.
Ediriweera ER, Premarathna NY. Medicinal and cosmetic uses of Bee's Honey - A review. Ayu. 2012;33(2):178-182. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.105233